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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 24. 28th September 1972

Thoughts From An Australian Liberal

page 6

Thoughts From An Australian Liberal

Photo of chained aboriginals

The articles on pages 6 and 7 are reprinted from Farrago and Semper Floreat. Australian student newspapers.

I often think that the first person to go in any "Night of the Long Knives", whether in Australia, America or Niugini, will be the liberal, the intellectual, the tentative one. If I try to have a bet both ways, trying to identify with the black struggle, but retaining my nice, middle-class values, then the Black Panthers will take great delight in me — so will the Weakermen.

In simple terms, the issue is between non-involvement and utter commitment. If you would work against racism here or overseas, it cannot be a dillentante interest but must be complete identification. At the very least, you must be aware of yourself and where you stand in relation to the struggle, whether in the white or black community. You must clarify your biases and recognise things will not be done "nicely" in either community. Blood, literally or metaphorically, will flow, and it will be mine first — because I will wait around too long trying to reason things out.

Denis Walker spoke at the end. He attacked me (the chairman) for wearing a tie (to be 'respectable') and for getting 'uptight' when I thought he was getting drunk before the forum. (All crap, of course, I am a revolutionary like him, infiltrating the system from within). But Denis, like Don and Gordon, is of the people, his people. If he gets pissed every night and screws where he can then that is what the people themselves do to obliterate their squalid existence. Here my bourgeoisie self-righteousness rises in my gorge, and I see how phoney my gestures towards respectability are. If Pastor Don gets drunk does he lose the love and respect of his people? All that happens, I would suggest, is that he scares off us would-be do-gooders. But Denis knows something more than this, that there is a better way of life somewhere ahead for his people and for all those oppressed by 'the system'. And he means to tell them, educate them to stand up for their rights as people, even if that means evading through pigs blood to attain them. And Dennis won't use violence first; it is only that the system itself predicates violence whether in the form of the cop in the corner or the judge in his judicial bench, or the liberal academic in his ivory tower or the capitalist in his house on the hill.

Blacks are angry, seethir... and cantankerous. They have every right to be so after centuries of repression, discrimination and prostitution of their culture and race. And how can we whites help until we first know the constructs of our own existence and beliefs? Change may well come without the bang of cannon and the pop of molotov cocktails. But confrontation will occur before all are equal in our society, and this particularly applies to the blacks, who after all are only a certain aspect of the wider struggle. And if we white liberals would do anything, then we must follow out the logic of our beliefs and commitments.

Let us recognise that with our liberal rhetoric, we only cloud the real issues and lose the respect of black groups. We are not viable beings with whom to do business. At least if you are black, you know where you stand with George Wallace or Bielke-Petersen.

Sam Ricketson